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Dr. Seuss : American icon /

Main Author: Nel, Philip, 1969-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Continuum, 2004
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Review by Choice Review

Despite his enormous popularity, the work of Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, has heretofore been the subject of only two book-length critical studies, Ruth MacDonald's Dr. Seuss (1988) and Richard Minear's Dr. Seuss Goes to War (1999), a collection of WW II cartoons. Thus, the present title is a welcome contribution to furthering understanding of both the range and power of Geisel's oeuvre. Nel (Kansas State Univ.) admits his text is somewhat schematic; he dedicates each chapter to a different aspect of Geisel's work and uses a different theoretical approach: on poetry, he uses formalism; on politics, historicism; on marketing, cultural studies; and so on. Such varying thematic interpretations reveal Nel's remarkably extensive research, which reaches from Geisel's political cartoons to his decisions about copyright and trademark to protect his creations. Nel offers astute analyses of both racism and sexism in Geisel's work, and one particularly interesting chapter outlines intertextual borrowings from and influences of Geisel's work. All this is richly illustrated with more than 30 reproductions (photographs, editorial cartoons, drawings of Geisel's beloved characters). The invaluable 70-page annotated bibliography lists both primary works and secondary sources--films, books, interviews, reviews, and Web sites. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All collections, academic and public. E. R. Baer Gustavus Adolphus College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

He claimed that he used nonsense to awaken the brain cells, and his work, whether the political cartoons that began his career, or the children's books for which he is most famous, provides ample evidence of his ability to keep readers on their toes. Timed to coincide with the one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of The U.S. Laureate of Nonsense, this abundantly documented critical study investigates not only Dr. Seuss' quirky art and inventive language but also how his inspired goofiness entered the mainstream of American culture. Nel eschews all but the most necessary details of Dr. Seuss' personal life, but, using numerous, specific examples of his writing and art, digs deeply into the work, including a particularly intriguing discussion of Dr. Seuss' pre- and post-World War II politics. With extensive documentation and a bibliography of nearly 100 pages, this isn't for the renowned doctor's casual fans. But even nonacademics will come away enlightened about the talented man who wanted to wake people up to events in the world and leave a moral legacy for children. --Stephanie Zvirin Copyright 2004 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

Don't buy this book for the children's section! A highly academic treatment of an "American icon, American iconoclast," this study contends that the work of Theodore Geisel, the "U.S. Laureate of Nonsense," is worth taking seriously and has a great deal of underlying content. Nel (English, Kansas State Univ.), who previously authored J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter Novels: A Reader's Guide as well as the award-winning essay "Dada Knows Best: Growing Up `Surreal' with Dr. Seuss," thoroughly examines Geisel's politics-namely, his work to combat anti-Semitism, his anti-Hitler cartooning, and his problematic treatment of Asians-and discusses how Dr. Seuss has been interpreted in American pop culture. Almost a third of this book is taken up by an extensive notes section. In addition, 33 black-and-white (mostly political) cartoons are included. Recommended for academic libraries with extensive collections on popular culture and adult and children's literature.-Terren Ilana Wein, Univ. of Chicago (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

These two books about the prolific artist are vastly different in purpose, approach, and audience. Cohen's goal is to document Geisel's creative development, tracing his writing and artistic skills chronologically within a cultural context. Endnotes document his sources, but the text is woven with supporting visuals that work with his engaging style to achieve broad appeal. Nel aims to elevate Dr. Seuss to the level of icon and builds his case through a series of linked essays, each one examining Geisel through the differing critical lenses employed by Liberal Studies scholars. He provides extensive commentary, endnotes, and an annotated bibliography, increasing the value to academics. Although no one premise is fully argued, no one assertion fully supported, the book provides fertile ground for further study. Cohen's title is simpler, larger, and more complete.-Sue Burgess, Framingham State College, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.